McKinley carnival awash in fun despite damp opening
Light rain was falling Thursday evening, but kids and other fun-seekers were swept away by a wave of enthusiasm on the opening night of the McKinley School PTA's annual carnival at Jennings Beach.
The carnival -- "blessed" nearly every year with a night or two of springtime showers -- featured nearly two dozen amusement rides, including popular attractions like the Scrambler, Zero Gravity, Super Slide, Cobra and Fun House. The rides are arranged at the beachside setting through Stewart Amusements of Trumbull, and revenues raised are the McKinley PTA's biggest fundraiser, supporting cultural-enhancement programs, scholarships and field trips.
"If it's going to rain, we're delighted that it's Thursday versus the weekend. We get it out of the way," Gary Vigeant, co-chairman of the carnival committee, said of the event that ran through Sunday. "It makes for a slow start, but we're optimistic."
Besides the rides, food vendors included Tunxis Hill-based Chilibomb and a fried dough booth. A raffle for prizes including sports memorabilia and New York City attractions also was conducted.
Richard Stewart of Stewart Amusements recalled the early days of the McKinley carnival. "The first few years, we did this at the old McKinley school grounds," he said, referring to the school's Thompson Street campus in the Tunxis Hill neighborhood. "Then we moved to Jennings while the new school was being built. Jennings (Beach) was only supposed to be temporary, but it worked out so well, we kept it here.
"The McKinley folks are a great bunch of people," Stewart added. "We have a good relationship, business-wise and personally."
Pete Weberg, the owner of Chilibomb, busy heating up chili under a tent, served up "our chili, burgers, chili dogs and chili ... This is our first time working with McKinley. We look forward to a good weekend."
Christy Marsan, watching her daughter Taylor on a swings ride, said she didn't mind the rain. "We wanted to come out and support the McKinley family and let the kids have fun," she said. "They have the run of the carnival."
Nine-year-old Zander Egervari, about to ride on the Rip Cord tower, wasn't letting the rain dampen his spirits. "I love this carnival," he said. "We're here every year and we want to support the school."
Suzanne Graceffa was keeping an eye on her daughters Natalia and Mariella as they enjoyed the Dinosaur ride. "I promised the girls earlier in the week that we would come here," she said. "I can't break my promise. They were looking forward to this."